Movie lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. But in the case of the “Zorro” sequel, “The Legend of Zorro,” it hits close enough to set off sparks.
It’s not quite as much fun as watching Antonio Banderas and a then-unknown Catherine Zeta-Jones mix it up and mush it up for the first time, as they did back in 1998. But the cast and crew reunite for a spirited revival of the old-fashioned and supremely entertaining “Legend.”
Zorro, a.k.a. Don Alejandro de la Vega, is married to the spitfire Elena now. They have a son (Adrian Alonso) who is old enough to worship the masked Robin Hood of old California more than his ever-absent dad. Mom isn’t happy.
“People still need Zorro,” Don Alejandro protests.
“No, you still need Zorro,” Dona Elena spits back.
But Don Alejandro has reasons to be MIA. California is voting to join the United States.
And in this hilariously inaccurate history lesson, there are “Confederate” forces, 10 years before the Confederate States exist, and fundamentalist bigots and European secret societies out to foil this union.
To make matters worse, this trouble at the polls is spilling over into their home life. Zorro and the missus split up. Oily Count Armand (Rufus Sewell) is making time with Mrs. Masked Man.
And government agents are digging into the chicanery of the various factions, sucking the whole Zorro clan into their plot. Zorro has to get over the three-month bender he’s been on since his divorce, defeat the bad guys, win back the fair lady and impress his impressionable son.
This is a James Bond movie, on horseback and in Spanglish. There are Bond fights and Bond villains and Bond villain speeches and Bond super-weapons.
It’s almost “Son of Zorro.” The kid, Alonso, is a real firecracker. His swordfight, with yardsticks, with his priest-schoolteacher is one of the most delightful popcorn moments the movies have given us all year. And Banderas interacts with him with all the humor and heart he brought to the “Spy Kids” movies.
Banderas and Zeta-Jones click again, because they’re better as fighting lovers than as mere marrieds.
And the action, underscored by a flamenco-mariachi score, is whooping-and-hollering-at-the screen fun. Epic swordfights, a train chase, back-flips by the barrelful, all done with a PG, family-action film lightness that makes the whole thing just float by.
No, the tongues aren’t quite as firmly in cheek, the one-liners aren’t as crisp and the action flags more times than it should. They didn’t quite capture lightning in a bottle twice. But this “Zorro” does nothing to tarnish the “Legend.”
What: “The Legend of Zorro”
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rufus Sewell
Directed by: Martin Campbell.
Running time: 2 hours.
Rated: PG for sequences of violence/peril and action, language and a couple of suggestive moments.